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Focus on the Dump Zones - Wendy Will Blog
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Focus on the Dump Zones

September 12, 2011

I am so thankful for a recent trip to Target where I randomly picked up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I’m enjoying the book so much thus far and gaining so much insight that I actually read with a pencil in hand underlining poignant and relevant parts. Makes me feel like I’m doing a college research project and I love it because I’m a nerd like that.

Anyway, I posted a couple of quotes that have really struck me on my blog’s Facebook page a few days ago. I’m planning on responding to those quotes later this week. But for today, I want to focus on dump zones. Do you have one? Or three?

Rubin tackles organization in the first month of her twelve month journey to finding happiness. She talks about clearing the clutter and how much of a buzz it gives her. I totally relate. I like organization. I like clean and clutter free. Anything else gives me a lot of anxiety. So naturally you’d think our home is spic and span, right? Not so much. It’s constantly trashed with toys, books, magazines, dirty laundry, unopened mail, opened mail, paper bags from Trader Joe’s, and crap that doesn’t have a home. I can’t stand it. My husband hates it even more. And some days I spend hours just picking up clutter. Day after day. That’s a lot of time during the week where I could be doing something else far more valuable with my time.

And then last night I read it on page 31 of The Happiness Project: “Focus on the dump zones.” What’s a dump zone? It’s the place where you throw your junk either when you get home or in a temporary spot until you finally put it in its permanent home. For me, it’s the kitchen island counter top, the dining room table, and on top of a wooden chest by the stairs.

“Junk attracts more junk. If you clear it off, it’s likely to stay clear.” | The Happiness Project

I usually dump my stuff on the counter-top when I get home – stuff like my purse, keys and sunglasses. Then when I clean up, that clutter is then usually moved to the dining room table – otherwise known as the “holding zone.” When the table is full, I’ll then separate the clutter. Downstairs stuff gets put away in its proper place but all the stuff that needs to go upstairs is only moved to the chest. Stuff might sit there for a week, maybe two, even though I go up and down the stairs a hundred times in a day.

Rubin has several suggestions on how to remedy the dump zone problem but I thought her “one-minute rule” was genius. It is as follows: You shouldn’t postpone a task if it’s going to take you less than a minute. Like, hang my purse on the coat rack by the door or throw the junk mail into the recycle bin rather than letting it pile up.

I actually put this into action today. My daughter needed a bandage today and I’m notorious for leaving the box and the little paper strips laying around after said boo-boo was wrapped. Today, I thought “Wendy, it will take you less than a minute to put the box away and those those strip in the trash – do it!” And it was done. I know it sounds ridiculous but I will otherwise spend a whole Saturday putting away Bandaid boxes, nail clippers, cleaning products, whatever because I failed to do it in the moment.

I’m hoping this new rule will free up some time to take the dog for a walk or spend the morning at the park instead of doing house chores.

Do you have a dump zone? And what’s your plan for getting rid of it?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

amber September 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I have a dump zone in every room! You think I kid, but…I’m getting ready for a garage sale, so that will help I think. However, I need a better plan.


Wendy September 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Amber..those are just my downstairs dump zones! I’ve definitely got one at the top of the stairs, my bathroom, my bedroom, and the office. So sad.
A garage sale would help my situation too. And maybe a huge ass trash bin.
Good luck with your sale!


Ashley @ It's Fitting September 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

I have a ton of them. Before we decided to spend the entire summer partying and traveling, I was actually getting pretty good with FlyLady to table those hotspots. Now? Yeah, not so much. But now that the traveling seems to be over for a bit, I’m ready to get tackling again!


Wendy September 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm

What’s “FlyLady?” Explain.


Jen September 30, 2011 at 7:37 am

It’s a site that helps you get and keep your home organised. I’ve been getting their emails for nearly 10 years now. I know I should probably unsubscribe, because I’ve been deleting them without reading for years now, but it was really helpful for me when my kids were little. I kind of have this magical thinking that, one day, I will actually pay attention to the emails and develop the routines needed to have a clean and organised house. :)


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